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Mike Black

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5th Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference Wrap-Up and Current Events

Like of all of you, our lives have sure changed in just a few weeks. Please practice social distancing, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and follow guidelines within your agency or organization.

Last fall, we held our 5th Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference last October in Van Buren, Missouri. Over 150 attendees were there from across the country representing federal and state agencies, numerous organizations, private consultants, and landowners. The presentations were pertinent and the facility (The Landing at Current River) was perfect. 

During the conference, the East Texas Shortleaf Pine Working Group was awarded the Shortleaf Pine Conservation Award for their "distinguished contributions to the restoration and management of shortleaf pine forests, woodlands and ecosystems." 

East TX SLP Working Group

Many of you took the time to provide us with valuable feedback, which we'll utilize for planning the 6th Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference scheduled for October, 2021 in North Carolina.

The SPI Communication Plan was rolled out at the conference, and plans are underway to start the process of  updating the original Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan in the coming year. The original plan was released in 2016 and was intended to cover a five-year period. The new plan will cover a 10-year restoration horizon.

In the meantime, please take a look a the SPI website  for updates, follow the SPI social media on Facebook or Twitter, and check out the webinars available through, hosted by Southern Regional Extension Forestry and supported by numerous sponsors.


4th Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference Wrap-Up

With the success of the 4th Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference in the books, we'd like to sincerely thank everyone who participated and who made this event possible. Bob Williams (Pine Creek Forestry) and George Zimmermann (Stockton University) were invaluable in planning the event and coordinating the field trip. Seaview staff made sure we had a great experience on site. Southern Regional Extension Forestry recorded the presentations for continued viewing. And we'd like to extend special thanks to the speakers and presenters who traveled from all over the eastern US to share their work with us: Kay Reed, US Forest Service; John Sacco, New Jersey Forest Service; Jim Guldin, US Forest Service; Bob Williams, Pine Creek Forestry; Bernie Isaacson, New Jersey Forest Service; John Parke, New Jersey Audubon Society; McRee Anderson, The Nature Conservancy; George Zimmermann, Stockton University; Amos Eno, Land Conservation Assistance Network; Ron Myers, North Carolina Forest Service; Bryan Hudson, Pine Snake Project; Chris Erwin, American Forest Foundation; Wally Akins, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; John Stivers, Sehoy Plantation/Consulting Forester. 

You can view their presentations online at

Since many of you have requested it, we are attaching conference attendee's contact information so you can continue to network and share industry information. Be sure to stay tuned to for important shortleaf news and upcoming workshop/event announcements.

Shortleaf Pine Initiative Team,

Mike Black, Director
Clarence Coffey
Penny Barnhart, Accounting Specialist
Alyssa Merka, Communications Specialist

Award Collage

Initiative Updates

October 17, 2016

SPI has accomplished much in its three short years, but one of its greatest achievements is the release of the Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan. Released in June of this year, the Plan is the result of a series of workshops held in 2013 and 2014 and seeks to improve the shortleaf pine ecosystem across its entire range. This is not only a victory for SPI, but for our many partners that contributed their time and expertise to its completion. You can read the Plan in its entirety at

We have some exciting things on the horizon that I look forward to sharing with you.  Rob Sutter, Contractor, Holly Campbell with Southern Regional Extension Forestry, and numerous contributors have been busy updating and creating shortleaf pine fact sheets that will be a valuable resource to both landowners and professionals.

I have spent much time on the road lately, representing the Initiative at workshops and conferences around the region. To keep track of events happening in the conservation world and see where SPI is being represented, visit Speaking of events, be sure to mark your calendars for the 4th Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference, held October 3-5, 2017, in Galloway, New Jersey. Planning for the conference is already underway, so stay tuned for more information. 


Advisory Committee Meeting Update

April 18, 2016 

Our Advisory Committee met last month in Nashville, and we had a very productive meeting! Discussions included the deliverables the Initiative has produced since it began, including the initial planning of the 4th Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference, the launch of the SPI website (hosted by our friends at SREF), and the publishing of the long-awaited Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan (SPRP).

The SPRP will be formally released at the 2016 Southeast Conference for Land and Community Conservation sponsored by the Southeast Land Trust Alliance on May 13, 2016, in Birmingham, AL. It will be available on the website after the conference, with a webinar to follow.

Along with a review of 2015, we discussed the Initiative’s current objectives and areas of focus to keep us on track with the deliverables listed in the SPRP, including professional training, seedling production, and demonstration areas.

The meeting concluded with an around-the-room discussion by our Advisory Committee members about the mission of the organizations they represent, and how their mission overlaps with SPI’s. It was great to see the common threads running between our partners, and how working together helps each of us achieve our goals. 


Great things are happening at the Shortleaf Pine Initiative!

January 28, 2016

The 3rd Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference (held this past September in Knoxville, TN) was a huge success. Nearly twenty speakers gave compelling presentations on topics including shortleaf silviculture, economics, and wildlife management. The conference included a field trip to Catoosa Wildlife Management Area, an excellent example of a well maintained and developing shortleaf savanna, woodland and forest. More than 100 people attended the conference and have provided positive feedback. We are already making plans for the 4th Biennial Shortleaf Conference, which will take place in October 2017 in New Jersey. Conference information will be posted as plans are finalized.

We are also looking forward to the imminent release of the Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan (SPRP), one of the greatest achievements of the Initiative. This was a huge undertaking and would not have been possible without partnering organizations and individuals contributing their time, expertise, and services. The SPRP covers the history, ecology, and economics of shortleaf pine and presents a range-wide response to the rapid decline of shortleaf pine in its range. This information was gathered over a series of workshops held in 2013 and 2014 and has been thoroughly reviewed by our partners, peers, and experts in the fields of forestry and wildlife. The SPRP is in final draft now, and we expect to release it soon following a final review.

In other good news, we were able to add two members to our team to tackle some of the projects and responsibilities that have emerged as the Initiative has grown – Penny Barnhart (Accounting Specialist) and Alyssa Merka (Administrative Specialist). They are based out of UTK’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries in Knoxville, TN.

We look forward to sharing the Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan with you soon! If you have any questions or would like to get involved, feel free to contact us at


The Shortleaf Pine Initiative

Restoring an American forest legacy

July 17, 2015
Shortleaf pine associated ecosystems provide diverse habitat, as pictured in this shortleaf pine savanna in the Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area. Credit: Clarence Coffey

Launched in the spring of 2013, the Shortleaf Pine Initiative (SPI) is a collaborative, strategic and energetic response to the dramatic decline of shortleaf pine forests and associated habitats that once covered a vast area from eastern Texas to Florida and up the eastern seaboard to New Jersey. Over the last 30 years more than 50% of these forested acres have been lost with the most significant declines taking place east of the Mississippi River.

While efforts to reverse these disturbing trends have been made in the past, now is the time for a more robust and concerted effort involving stakeholders across the range. At stake is an extraordinary diversity of cultural, ecological and economic values centered on wildlife and recreation, water quality and a high value wood products industry. With millions of people depending on the benefits of this imperiled ecosystem, the need to develop a range-wide conservation strategy is more compelling than ever.

While some restoration efforts are already underway, a range-wide conservation plan for shortleaf pine has been developed by our Advisory Committee to identify optimum restoration strategies, increase coordination among shortleaf proponents and maximize the effectiveness of ongoing efforts and will be available during our Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee September 22-24, 2015.

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